Rural Supplies
< Back to Latest News
24 November 2021

Clean sweep for young PGG Wrightson auctioneers

Ben Wright and Brooke Cushion make a nationwide mark among young rural professionals

PGG Wrightson secured a quinella at the tenth annual Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition, held in Canterbury in early November. Ben Wright, a sheep and beef representative for the company based in Manawatu, finished first in the contest, while Brooke Cushion, a PGG Wrightson dairy, sheep and beef representative in Waikato, was runner up.


Ben Wright says having plenty of practice selling in Feilding and being surrounded by experienced colleagues willing to train him in the basics has helped develop the skills that won him the young auctioneer title.


"I was thrown straight into selling at auction from the start of my career and have no shortage of older guys coaching me the whole way through.


"A good auctioneer needs to be confident, as well as having a bit of charisma and character. You also need to be able to use your voice, which has always come easy for me," he said.


Callum Stewart, PGG Wrightson livestock national genetics manager, said the competition was an excellent opportunity for young rural professionals to show their skills.


"Auctions have played a vital role in the rural economy for centuries and have always been an essential part of PGG Wrightson's identity. Although technology is providing some exciting alternatives to sell livestock, produce or property, the auction is likely to remain an integral part of agribusiness for the foreseeable future.


"Earlier this year PGG Wrightson implemented an auctioneers strategy, which helps identify and train promising auctioneers with a bright future. Ben and Brooke are part of that programme, which helped them to show up, shine, and edge out their peers from other companies. They can be proud of their success, which stands them in good stead as they develop their careers. 


"A smartly run auction will achieve the best possible price for a farmer selling stock, feeding directly into the business bottom line. Ben and Brooke have shown they are masters of the craft and will do that for many farming businesses in the future," said Callum.


PGG Wrightson reps Russell Moloney of South Otago and Matt Holmes of Oxford also featured strongly in the Young Auctioneers Competition, which was for entrants under 30.


Related Articles

Cameron Gray: Knowing you've made their day

24 November 2021

A '100 per cent country boy' makes the shift from rural transport to livestock rep

With roots in the region, Cameron Gray started as a PGG Wrightson South Canterbury and Waimate livestock representative in October 2021. A 100 per cent country boy, Cameron's home patch is Cannington, Cave, 35 kilometres west of Timaru, where his parents have a 200-hectare property running 800 ewes and 70 breeding cows. 


Cameron left school in 2012.


"I went to work at Temuka Transport. My father drives, which led me into it. I graduated to driving stock trucks through the South Island. Although I made a good living and enjoyed the countryside, after seven years, I started working out what I wanted to achieve in life and thinking about a different direction." 


Around that time, Greg Uren of PGG Wrightson South Canterbury approached Cameron in the Temuka Saleyards. 


"He asked would I like to become a stock agent? I said: 'Funny enough, I've been thinking about that,' so I came on as a trainee for two years.


"I had no idea what a livestock rep did. Driving a stock truck, I only saw part of the job. I thought agents leant on drafting gates and drove around looking cool. Being a trainee for two years opened my eyes to the industry. I achieved things I never thought I would," he says.


Auctioneering was one, taking Cameron into the unknown. 


"Greg said, 'You need to do this.' I like being in the background, doing my own thing, so when he put me up to sell prime lambs at the Temuka sale, that was in the deep end," he says.


However, he quickly became good enough to compete in the 2020 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition, pitting rural professionals under 30 up against each other. He finished third in his first shot at the title.


Once the two-year trainee-ship finished, Cameron went back to Temuka Transport as a group sales rep.


"It was a job I fancied a crack at when I was driving. After finishing the trainee-ship, I knew I wanted to be in livestock and was keen to come back to PGG Wrightson, though there was no suitable position right away, so I decided to bide my time, give it two years and see what happened."


Seven months on, the right job came up, and Cameron came back. 


"One of the best parts of the job is rocking up to people's places knowing they appreciate you. You might be the only person they see that day, so even though you are there for business, that's only part of it. Seeing your clients, having a yarn, one on one when no one else is listening, some people open up. I enjoy hearing stories: how they got where they are. 


"You can't beat driving out of the gate knowing you've made their day. If you've helped them outselling or buying something, given them some advice or just put a smile on their face, that's the best part of the job," he says.


As a livestock newbie, Cameron knows he can do the job, though he also has to earn the right to work with clients.


"You have to earn that trust by being honest and being yourself. You have to be a people person. You have to make sure not to let your clients down, and be prepared to admit when you make a mistake. There's nothing worse than running away from a problem, though the key is not having that problem in the first place.


"Confidence is important, and you can't stress about something you can't change. People worry what will happen in future, though the first decision is usually the right decision: if you want to do something, either make it happen or move on," he says.


With plenty of experienced colleagues in the region, Cameron has some good mentors on which to base his own career.


"Many of the guys we have here have been loyal to the company for 20 or 30 years. I would like to be like that. When we get together in Temuka, they talk about the old days. When I'm in that position, if I'm lucky enough to be like them, I wonder what stories I'll have to tell the young fellas then," he says.

Simon Eddington: Practicing what he preaches

24 November 2021

Finishing a few head of stock keeps Simon in tune with what's happening for his clients 


Simon Eddington is PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative for the Upper South Island. Taking his work home and trying to practice what he preaches, Simon has lived for the past 20 years on a 13-hectare lifestyle block just south of Ashburton.


"On my own account, I finish a few cattle, lamb a few ewes, and buy-in lambs. It keeps me in tune with what's happening. When I drive around, see the paddocks growing, go up to my client's driveways, having that hands-on experience of what they are doing is a reality check that helps me better understand what other farmers go through," he says. 


Growing up in Gore, Simon has called several parts of the South Island home, generally north of the Waitaki. Gaining his Dip Ag at Lincoln before farming in Marlborough on a property owned by his father and uncle, going to work for Pynes in St Andrews, Timaru in 1992, doing a stint for the company in Culverden, then working as a drafter, lamb marketer and in various other roles for a couple of different meat processors for about 20 years. He returned to PGG Wrightson to start his current position in April 2018. 


"In many cases in whichever job I have had, I had dealt with the same people throughout my career, though mostly they are different generations now to when I started," he says.


Simon regards the livestock genetics role as helping farmers be the best they can be.


"As a rep, you need to understand your clients' breeding programmes. Whether bulls or rams, our role is to help clients improve: know what they are trying to achieve and help them go for it. Genetics is the final bit that makes the difference, though it is the biggest change they can make. 


"Genetics is a long term game, not something you can achieve overnight. A decision you might make today can impact your whole breeding programme over several years, with progeny potentially remaining part of a flock or herd longer than the life of just that ram or bull. With all the long term value the right genetics can bring, that investment is comparatively cheap, potentially paying farmers back tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future," he says.


Simon values support from the other PGG Wrightson genetics reps elsewhere in the country.


"We work in a team environment, which I enjoy. Other colleagues are only a phone call away, and PGG Wrightson's commercial livestock reps are important for what we do. I rely on them to give me leads, which ultimately also improves their business," he says. 


While red meat processing schedules are undeniably good news for farmers at present, Simon says that carries challenges. 


"Prices are extremely good. There is a real demand for protein out there, and exporting the good side of what New Zealand does, our clean and green brand helps sell our product.


"However, ewes going out of the system because farmers are commanding such excellent prices does create a risk of compromising genetics. Prices at that level make it difficult to resist the temptation to quit stock. Everyone is even more motivated to raise lambing percentages. To keep that up, we need to provide the rams capable of servicing that need. With such exceptional money available at the moment, it has moved that pressure up another level.


"Canterbury is a big trading area. These are cropping farmers who buy in lambs to finish. At some stage, with all that stock going through, someone needs to retain enough ewes to keep these trading areas going: we need enough stock for trading and finishing, which comes from breeding. We need farmers to breed more replacements, which is where store lambs and finishing lambs come from. We see it with cattle as well, with such high demand from the meat companies. 


"It's a problem across agriculture, though in truth it is a highly desirable problem to have, based on such excellent market conditions," he says.

Simon Eddington, Genetic Specialist

Go-Stock provides cashflow solution for young South Canterbury farming couple

24 November 2021

Efficient and easy to use option leaves clients free to find better uses for their capital. 


PGG Wrightson offers an easy solution for on-farm cashflow: Go-Stock. Since 2016 Go-Stock has put 1.55 million lambs and 240,000 cattle onto New Zealand farms.


For farmers operating under Go-Stock, PGG Wrightson buys the stock and retains ownership. Go-Stock farmers, therefore, save on spending cash upfront, leaving them free to find other uses for their capital. 


Under a Go-Stock agreement, and with our guidance, the farmer decides when to take the stock to market. PGG Wrightson then sells them, with any resulting positive trading margin belonging to the farmer, fewer fees and selling costs.


Rob Holt and Steph Macfarlane lease four properties totalling 1100 hectares at Silver Hill, Albury, South Canterbury, where they run approximately 9000 stock units, including breeding, finishing and store stock.


Steph explains how Go-Stock benefits their business.


"We use it to trade all our lambs and cattle. About 30 per cent of our income is from finishing, which is where we use Go-Stock to manage cash flow.


"Go-Stock is efficient and really easy to use. It helps us to make sure our money goes towards our capital livestock. Being young farmers leasing property, our capital stock is our biggest focus and our most important priority. Go-Stock is such an easy process to set up and be part of.


"We would recommend Go-Stock to anyone else starting in the industry," she says.


Go-Stock is an option for sheep, cattle and deer, while a Go-Stock Dairy offer is coming soon.

For more information about Go-Stock, speak to your PGG Wrightson livestock representative here.

Share this page